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De Blasio Allocates More Than $8 Million For Lower East Side Parks (Updated)

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Luther Gulick Park. Photo credit: Friends of Gulick Park, 2012.
Luther Gulick Park. Photo credit: Friends of Gulick Park, 2012.

As mentioned in our “Morning Reads,” Mayor de Blasio is announcing this morning that the city will be spending $130 million to improve small parks in low income neighborhoods. The mayor’s office has not released the complete funding list just yet, but we have some additional details about the impact on the Lower East Side.

According to the office of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, three parks in the neighborhood are set to benefit from the program. They are:

  • Luther Gulick Park (Willett/Delancey streets): $2 million to renovate a comfort station.  After years of advocacy by the Friends of Gulick Park, $6 million had already been raised to rehab the neglected space. The existing funds were facilitated by Speaker Silver, City Council member Margaret Chin, State Sen. Daniel Squadron and the Manhattan Borough President.

More to come following the mayor’s press conference…

UPDATE 12:45 P.M. For more details about the mayor’s new Community Parks Initiative, click here.  A few points that caught our eye:

  • “More than 70 new seasonal recreational programming and maintenance staff will activate and improve parks in all Community Parks Initiative communities.”
  • “NYC  Parks will rebuild 35 community parks. Each of these capital – or major physical improvement – projects will be developed with community input on the design principles and program. With your help, we will re-create the following community parks.”
  • “Parks will carry out many smaller-scale park improvement projects that can be completed on a faster schedule and bring immediate results to communities. Targeted improvement projects will happen throughout the Community Park Initiative zones, which are the areas that are shaded in gray on the map.”
  • “NYC Parks is increasing the presence of staff at parks throughout the Community Park Initiative zones to ensure improved quality of maintenance and safer, more beautiful parks.”

CPI Zones_08052014_edit ED 5_JG

Among those speaking at today’s media event in Queens was State Sen. Daniel Squadron. In his campaign for public advocate, he highlighted the problem of park funding inequity and called on wealthy park conservancies to divert some of their funds to parks in low income communities. De Blasio said today that while he decided the first step should be public investment in the city’s parks, it’s also a priority to work with conservancies on a version of Squadron’s proposal.

In a press release put out by the mayor’s office today, Squadron said, “A year and a half ago, folks were not talking about parks equity, and now Mayor de Blasio is addressing the most glaring inequities in neighborhood parks around the city… (I) look forward to continue addressing the parks equity crisis.”


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  1. Come help us clean up Sara Roosevelt Park on October 18th from 12pm to 2pm – It’s My Park Day. We have a diverse group of people who work hard to keep this place as clean, planted, and rat free as we can. For over 20 years. Parks has little money for maintenance – despite the NYTimes puff piece. This doesn’t sustainably fund parks. For that we need parks to have it’s own budget line. To make parks work we need people to take ownership of their local park (if they have the means to do it). We have people here who have means, time and sturdy backs. Pitch in.

  2. What version of Squadron’s parks equity proposal has survived? Seems like a big compromise was made here among elected officials. I love Luther Gulick park and what all the hard-working volunteers and
    fundraisers have achieved, but what about the oldest municipal playground in the United States–historic Seward Park? It’s a vital outdoor green space that’s actively used.

    I’d like to know by what criteria the 35 parks were chosen, and how all the hundreds of ailing parks in the system will be improved and more importantly, maintained, to appropriate standards. For all those interested, volunteers with Friends of Seward Park work in the park and garden each
    Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 or 12:30 p.m. Come join us!

  3. Squadron’s proposal pushed the issue. I watched him at the “Talking Transitions Tent” battle with other park advocates on it. He was the one who kept saying “equity”. He wouldn’t let it go. He was the only one who talked about Parks as a system – not just made up of the parks that get million dollar donations. He was fierce and unintimidated (and the push-back was relentless). If he hadn’t made park equity an issue I doubt this money would be here at all. If even one neglected park in a struggling community gets redone it will be worth it. But the larger battle, yes, that is ongoing. As much as our parks struggle here, we have resources nearby, political agency and our LES grit! Good luck on Saturdays. Seward Park is beautiful.

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